of lying still and colour

I used to ride each morning
around the places I’d set my traps
to collect a handful of scrawny bunnies
I’d go out to check them
before anyone else had risen

I slipped a foot off the pedal one day
when I was wearing thongs
tore my toes on bitumen

I turned the bike around
went home
put myself and the damage to bed
I pretended that
if I didn’t move
I wouldn’t feel any pain

I lay very still until she found me there
around lunchtime


ma looks grey on the bed
she’s beeping every couple of seconds
has so many tubes sticking out
it looks like they’ve had to hook up her feet
to get a reading of low blood pressure

she’s drifting in and out of consciousness
lying very still
and one eye’s weeping

I wipe it with a handkerchief
but it still looks shiny
puffed up and moist
she doesn’t really know
hasn’t noticed

she speaks a half-coherent line
about pain control not working well before
but it’s fine now

and the surgeon breezed through a while ago
she can’t recall what he told her
but it must be ok
she thinks that’s what he said


I found crystals on the street
when I was young
odd shapes that drew my attention
with flat sides as sheer as glass

I’d hold their smoky clarity
pointed at the sky towards the sun
thought I might get a glimpse
of the colours that lay beyond

but the best I ever managed was opaque


pa and me are sitting quiet
in disparate corners
when we came back from lunch
she was seriously sleeping

we look at each other
from across the room
know there’s little either of us can do

he’ll wash out her nighties
and I’ll go back to work in another town

he says they should be ok now
the worst was not knowing the result
and now it’s more about endurance and willpower

he says he’ll keep some colour in the garden
that might be important he thinks
when she comes home

© Frank Prem, 2006

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